De Lima OKs smuggling raps vs Bangayan

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Suspected rice smuggler businessman Davidson Bangayan, who is believed to be using the alias “David Tan,” is being linked to more criminal activities.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has recommended that Bangayan be charged with bid-fixing under Republic Act 9184, the Government Procurement Reform Act, and monopoly and restraint of trade under the Revised Penal Code.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has approved the NBI report.

Investigation showed that Bangayan used several farmers’ cooperatives and farmers’ organizations as dummies in bidding for rice import allocations from the National Food Authority (NFA).

The NBI also recommended that rice traders David and Judilyne Lim, Elizabeth Faustino, Eleanor Rodriguez and Leah Echeveria undergo preliminary investigation for the same charges.

The NBI said Bangayan and the five rice traders were engaged in transactions prejudicial to lawful commerce, restrained free competition in the market and that they had altered or manipulated the market for rice.

“Upon investigation, the NBI discovered a scheme whereby certain rice traders were able to corner NFA’s rice import allocations through the use of farmers’ cooperatives, farmers’ organizations and single proprietorships as dummies in the bidding for rice import allocation under the private sector-financed importation through the NFA tax expenditure subsidy (TES),” read the NBI report.

“By their act of combining, conspiring and agreeing with one another in the manipulation of the bidding process for the award of rice import allocation from the NFA, they substantially and thus effectively cornered the supply of imported rice in the local market.”

The racket was discovered after investigators found that the farmers’ cooperatives and farmers’ organizations and single proprietors did not have the financial capability required for the bidding under the tax expenditure subsidy.

The NBI also recommended a separate charge of use of fictitious name punishable under the Revised Penal Code against Bangayan after investigators found out that he and David Tan are one and the same person.

Last June, the Department of Justice (DOJ) charged Bangayan with perjury before the Manila Metropolitan Trial Court after preliminary investigation showed that he lied under oath when he denied being David Tan during a Senate inquiry.

The new charges will be filed before the DOJ today.

Former administrator Angelito Banayo and four members of the NFA’s special bids and awards committee (SBAC) will undergo preliminary investigation upon the NBI’s recommendation.

They are accused of graft as provided under Republic Act No. 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The NBI said Banayo, SBAC chairman Joe Cordero and members Celia Tan, Gilberto Lauengco and Carlito Go must be held liable for giving the winning bidders in the NFA tax expenditure subsidy rice import allocation biddings unwarranted advantage in the bidding through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence, when they qualified and awarded them rice import allocations despite their lack of financial capability to participate as shown in the bid documents.

“The NFA SBAC for the tax expenditure subsidy rice import allocation bidding should have known from the bid documents submitted by the farmers’ cooperatives and farmers’ organizations and single proprietor bidders that they were not financially capable entities, as required under the terms of the NFA’s tax expenditure subsidy bidding,” read the NBI report.

The NBI is set to file the charges against Banayo and the SBAC officials before the Office of the Ombudsman today.

In Agusan, too

Two NFA officials in Agusan del Sur were charged with graft and malversation of public funds before the Office of the Ombudsman Mindanao in Davao City last Tuesday.

Charged were Agusan del Sur NFA warehouse supervisor Melvin Pacaña and Agusan del Sur provincial manager Gil Tabor.

Superintendent Randy Glenn Silvio, Caraga Regional Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit chief, said security guards and NFA employees saw Pacaña and Tabor inside the NFA Bayugan City warehouse when sacks of rice were hauled out.

Pacaña initially admitted to investigators that he took out some 1,600 sacks of rice from the warehouse without authorization, he added.

However, Silvio said Pacaña failed to disclose information that Tabor was with him at that time.

“It was only after other NFA employees and security guards told investigators that they personally saw the two NFA officials inside the warehouse at that time when said NFA rice were taken out of the NFA bodega,” he said. – With Ben Serrano


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